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  Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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China's Foreign Ministry denied on Tuesday that parties to talks
China's Foreign Ministry denied on Tuesday that parties to talks on North Korea's nuclear program were suspending fuel deliveries over verification of Pyongyang's denuclearization.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Friday that Japan, Russia, China, the United States and South Korea had agreed that "future fuel shipments will not go forward absent a verification regime."

"As a result of the six-nation meeting last week, the parties confirmed compliance with the second stage of denuclearization, which envisages the delivery of 1 million tons of fuel oil in exchange for the phasing out of the nuclear center in Yongbyon," ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Tuesday.

China's commitment to the fuel shipments follows similar statements by Russia on Saturday and South Korea on Monday.

Four days of international negotiations in Beijing on North Korea's denuclearization process ended last week with no deal reached on a Chinese-drafted verification protocol on means of probing North Korea's past nuclear activities. McCormack linked the signing of the protocol to fuel oil supplies, to Russia's surprise.

"The statement by the U.S. State Department made following the six-party talks in Beijing surprised us," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin said on Saturday.

Moscow's chief negotiator with the North Koreans said Russia would abide by its commitments on fuel shipments, adding that it would ship its third batch of 50,000 metric tons of fuel oil in December.

Borodavkin said Russia urged its partners in the talks with North Korea to do the same.

Each of the five countries agreed in 2007 to give the North 200,000 metric tons of fuel oil as an incentive for nuclear decommissioning by North Korea and disclosure of all information on past nuclear activities.

Japan froze its shipments before the current back-and-forth and is no longer recognized by North Korea as a participant in the talks.

Currently, the main stumbling block in the negotiations, which have been ongoing since 2003, is the U.S. demand for nuclear inspectors to take samples from North Korean facilities out of the country for analysis.


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